Lessons Learned from the Yahoo CEO


The CEO from Yahoo had to step down these days. Scott Thompson had to leave Yahoo in May of 2012 following a number of hectic weeks in which the accuracy of his resume was questionned. 
Much is said about this case and we don’t want to rehash the whole sage, it suffices to say that he had a resume, presented to the SEC with official company filings, that listed a degree he didn’t have.

Initially he/Yahoo reacted by referring to it as an inadvertent mistake.
Next he went on record saying he wasn’t responsible for it, as a Headhunter would have presented him.
Next, after the Headhunter announced they had some documented evidence that he came up with the faulty resume, he stepped down.
During the few weeks the saga was hot news he also held some all employee meetings that, following reports from employees, were rather awkward.

So what are the lessons we can learn from this saga?

  • Be Honest; the more visible your position or your impact, the more the media, your competitors, your colleagues and your employees will scrutinize all they can find about you.
  • Be quick to read the tea leaves, or actually sit down immediately with those whose support you will need and get their perspective after you have fully opened up to them.
  • Be responsive to inquieries; you don’t have to give a press briefing immediately if you don’t have all the answers but announce when more information will become available and meanwhile have the holding statement about reviewing the situation ready.
  • Don’t make excuses, just say sorry, say you learned from this episode.
  • Whatever you do, do it quick. People hate stories that drag on and the issue will grow out of proportion soon when you don’t take decicive actions. 

Take heart, public memory is short, if a former President who messed indecently can now be a much celebrated Past President, you too can recover. Just lay low for a while and carry on.


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